DEFENDING Mayo senior club football champions Westport were brought 'back to reality' by the draw for this year's competition, according to their manager Martin Connolly,
Connolly's charges have been drawn in Group 2 along with Ballaghaderreen, Claremorris and Charlestown.
Westport will begin the defence of their title on the weekend of August 19/20 at home to Charlestown while the holders will travel to Ballaghaderreen for a mouth-watering clash in round two a week later.
Ballagh’ will make the short journey to Claremorris for their first day out.
Last year’s beaten senior finalists, Ballina Stephenites, have been drawn in Group 1 along with 2020 Intermediate champions, Balla, 2021 Intermediate champions, Mayo Gaels, and Breaffy, who are still chasing their first senior title.
Breaffty will entertain the Stephenites in round one while Balla will make the short spin to Mayo Abbey to take on their near-neighbors, Mayo Gaels.
Group 3 has thrown together Ballintubber (who last lifted the trophy in 2019), Garrymore, 2021 finalists Belmullet and The Neale.
The opening round will see Garrymore make the long journey to Belmullet with Ballintubber travelling to Cong to take on The Neale.
There will be no easy games in Group 4 either with Castlebar Mitchels, Knockmore, Aghamore and Ballyhaunis all battling it out for two quarter-final slots.
The first round has thrown up a cracking local derby with Aghamore at home to last year’s Intermediate champions, Ballyhaunis.
Castlebar Mitchels go to Knockmore in round one for a repeat of last year’s quarter-final.
ISLANDEADY, last year’s Mayo junior champions, will have nothing easy in the Intermediate ranks after they were drawn in the same group as Davitts (who have just come down from the senior grade), perennial contenders Parke and Bonniconlon.
Davitts will be at home to Parke in round one with Islandeady taking on Bonniconlon.
Group 2 will be fought out between Kilmeena, Louisburgh, Kiltimagh and Ardnaree Sarsfields.
The two favourites to emerge from the group — Louisburgh and Kilmeena — clash in round two. In the first round, Kilmeena are at home to Ardnaree while Louisburgh are away to Kiltimagh.
Group 3 has all the hallmarks of ‘The Group of Death’.
Ballinrobe, Kiltane and Burrishoole have been drawn together for the second year in a row with Hollymount/Carramore completing the quartet.
Peter Ford’s Ballinrobe are away to Burrrishoole in round one while Kiltane are at home to Hollymount/Carramore.
All four sides will feel they have a genuine chance of getting out of a competitive group.
The same goes for Group 4 with all four teams in the mix for the last eight.
Castlebar Mitchels B will entertain Moy Davitts on the opening weekend with Kilmaine paying a visit to Crossmolina.
MEANWHILE, last year’s beaten finalists in the Mayo junior championship, Cill Chomáin, will be hoping to make it third time lucky in 2023 and finally get over the line.
They have been drawn in Group 2 and will get their campaign underway at home to Ardagh. This group also contains Achill.
Group 1 will see Northern Gaels face Ballycastle and Tourmakeady take on Shrule/Glencorrib in the first round.
In Group 3 (a three team group), Killala, Eastern Gaels and Kilmovee will be battling it out.
Group 4 gets underway with the clashes of Ballycroy and Swinford and Moygownagh and Lahardane, who have just been relegated down from the Intermediate ranks.